“You can’t exclude any hypothesis
… It’s practically impossible that here in an [oil] installation like
this which is fully automated everywhere and that has thousands of responsible
workers night and day, civilian and military, and that there is a gas
leak for 3 or 4 days and nobody responds. This is impossible.”
-- President Chavez responding to US media and opposition charges that
the explosion and fire at the oil refinery was due to government negligence.
43 days before the Venezuelan presidential election and with President
Chavez leading by a persistent margin of 20 percentage points, an explosion
and fire at the Amuay refinery killed at least 48 people - half of those
were members of the National Guard and destroyed oil facilities producing
645,000 barrels of oil per day.
following the explosion and fire, on script, all the mass media in the
US and Great Britain, and the right wing Venezuelan opposition
launched a blanket condemnation of the government as the perpetrator
of the disaster accusing it of “gross negligence” and “under-investment”
in safety standards.
there are strong reasons to reject these self-serving accusations and
to formulate a more plausible hypothesis, namely that the explosion
was an act of sabotage, planned and executed by a clandestine group
of terrorist specialists acting on behalf of the US government.
There are powerful arguments to sustain and pursue this line of inquiry.
The Argument for Sabotage:
(1) The first question in any serious investigation
is who benefits and who loses from the destruction of lives and oil
The US is a clear winner on several crucial fronts. Firstly, via
the economic losses to the Venezuelan economy 2.5 million barrels
in the first 5 days and counting - the loss will put a dent on social
spending and delay productive investments which in turn are key electoral
appeals of the Chavez presidency. Secondly, on cue the US joined
by its client candidate,Henrique Capriles Radonski, immediately launched
a propaganda blitz aimed at discrediting the government and calling
into question its capacity to ensure the security and safety of its
citizens and the principle source of the country’s wealth. Thirdly,
the explosion creates insecurity and fear among sectors of the electorate
and could influence their voting in the October presidential election.
Fourthly, the US can test the effectiveness of a wider destabilization
campaign and the government’s capacity to respond to any further security
(2) According to official government documents the US has
Special Forces operations in over seventy-five countries, including
Venezuela, which is targeted because of an adversarial relation.
This means that the US has operative clandestine highly trained operatives
on the ground in Venezuela. The capture of a US Marine for illegal
entry in Venezuela with prior experience in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan
(3) The US has a history of involvement in violent destabilization
activity in Venezuela backing the military coup of 2002 and the bosses’
lockout in the petroleum industry in 2003. The US targeting of
the oil industry involved sabotage of the computerized system and efforts
to degrade the refineries.
(4) The US has a history of sabotage and violence against
incumbent adversarial regimes. In Cuba during 1960, the CIA torched
a department store and sugar plantations, and planted bombs in the downtown
tourist centers aiming to undermine strategic sectors of the economy.
In Chile following the election of Socialist Salvador Allende, a CIA
backed right-wing group kidnapped and assassinated the military attache
of Socialist President, in an effort to provoke a military coup.
Similarly in Jamaica in the late 1970’s under democratic socialist President
Manley, the CIA facilitated a violent destabilization campaign in the
run-up to the elections. Sabotage and destabilization is a common
weapon in the face of impending electoral defeats (as is the case in
Venezuela) or where a popular government is firmly entrenched.
(5) Force, violence and destabilization campaigns against
incumbent regimes have become common operation procedure in current
US policy. The US has financed and armed terrorist groups in Libya,
Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Chechnya; it is bombing Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia
and Afghanistan. In other words US foreign policy is highly militarized
and opposed to any negotiated diplomatic resolution of conflicts with
adversarial regimes. Sabotaging Venezuela’s oil refineries is
within the logic and practice of current global US foreign policy.
(6) Domestic politics in the US has taken a further turn
to the far right in both domestic and foreign policy. The Republican
Party has accused the Democrats of pandering to Iran, Venezuela, Cuba
and Syria of not going to war.
The Obama regime has responded by escalating its military policies
battleships, missiles are aimed at Iran. He has supported Miami’s
demand for “regime change” in Cuba as a prelude to negotiations.
Washington is channeling millions of dollars via NGO’s to the Venezuelan
opposition for electoral and destabilization purposes. No doubt
the opposition includes employees, engineers and others with security
clearance and access to the petroleum industry. Obama has consistently
taken violent actions to demonstrate that he is as militarist as the
Republicans. In the midst of a close election campaign, especially
with a tight race in Florida, the sabotage of the Venezuelan refineries
plays well for Obama.
(7) With a little more than a month left before the elections,
and President Chavez is showing a 20 percentage point advantage; the
economy is on track for a steady recovery; social housing and welfare
programs are consolidating massive low income support or over 80%; Venezuela
has been admitted into MERCOSUR the powerful Latin American integration
program; Colombia signed off on a mutual defense agreement with
Venezuela; Venezuela is diversifying its overseas markets and suppliers.
What these facts indicate is that Washington has no chance of defeating
Chavez electorally;it has no possibility of using its Latin neighbors
as a springboard for territorial incursions or precipitating a war for
regime change; and it has no chance of imposing an economic boycott.
Given Washington’s declared enmity and designation of Chavez as “a threat
to hemispheric security” and faced with the utter failure of its other
policy tools, the resort to violence and, in this specific case, sabotage
of the strategic petrol sector emerges as the policy of choice.
Washington, by revealing its resort to clandestine terror, represents
a clear and present danger to Venezuela’s constitutional order, an immediate
threat to the life blood of its economy and of the democratic electoral
Hopefully, the Chavez government, backed by the vast majority of its
citizens and constitutionalist armed forces will take the necessary
comprehensive security measures to ensure that there is no repeat of
the petrol sabotage in other sectors, like the electrical grid.
Public weakness in the face of imperial belligerence only encourages
further aggression. No doubt heightened public security in defense
of the constitutional order will be denounced by the US government,
media and their local clients as “authoritarian” and claim that
protection of the national patrimony infringes on ‘democratic freedoms’.
No doubt they prefer a weak security system to ply their violent provocations.
Subsequent to their decisive electoral defeat they will claim fraud
or interference. All this is predictable, but the vast majority
of voters who assemble, debate and cast their ballots will feel secure
and look forward to another four years of peace and prosperity, free
from terror and sabotage.